Winnie-the-Pooh, also called Pooh Bear, is a fictional anthropomorphic bear created by A. A. Milne. The first collection of stories about the character was the book Winnie-the-Pooh (1926), and this was followed by The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne also included a poem about the bear in the children’s verse book When We Were Very Young (1924) and many more in Now We Are Six (1927). All four volumes were illustrated by E. H. Shepard.
The hyphens in the character’s name were later dropped when The Walt Disney Company adapted the Pooh stories into a series of Disney features that became one of its most successful franchises.
Milne named the character Winnie-the-Pooh after a teddy bear owned by his son, Christopher Robin Milne, who was the basis for the character Christopher Robin. Christopher’s toys also lent their names to most of the other characters, except for Owl and Rabbit, as well as the Gopher character, who was added in the Disney version.
The Winnie-the-Pooh stories are set in Ashdown Forest, Sussex, England. The forest is a large area of tranquil open heathland on the highest sandy ridges of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty situated 30 miles (50 km) south of London.
Many locations in the stories can be linked to real places in and around the forest. As Christopher Milne wrote in his autobiography: “Pooh’s forest and Ashdown Forest are identical”. The landscapes depicted in E.H. Shepard’s illustrations for the Winnie-the-Pooh books are directly inspired by the distinctive landscape of Ashdown Forest, with its high, open heathlands of heather, gorse, bracken and silver birch punctuated by hilltop clumps of pine trees.
The first collection of Pooh stories appeared in the book Winnie-the-Pooh. The Evening News Christmas story reappeared as the first chapter of the book, and at the very beginning it explained that Pooh was in fact Christopher Robin’s Edward Bear, who had simply been renamed by the boy. The book was published in October 1926 by the publisher of Milne’s earlier children’s work, Methuen, in England, and E. P. Dutton in the United States.
Since 1966, Disney has released numerous animated productions starring Winnie the Pooh and related characters. These have included theatrical featurettes, television series, and direct-to-video films, as well as the theatrical feature-length films The Tigger Movie, Piglet’s Big Movie, Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, and Winnie the Pooh.
Winnie the Pooh has inspired multiple texts to explain complex philosophical ideas. Pooh has also left a legacy in popular culture.